DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     April 19, 1999     vol. 10, no. 76

Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
    INTRODUCTION
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today Pat looks into the controversy surrounding the Renew International movement, specifically RENEW 2000 and discovers some shocking conclusions; first and foremost that it is a front for the upstart, liberal heretical group called Call To Action which Pat wrote about last week. He shows, through research, that beneath the surface the agenda for RENEW 2000 is no different than other dissident groups who seek to change the Church to their way of thinking from within without concern or respect for who and what Holy Mother Church is and has been over 2000 years.

Bait and hook: Renew 2000

          (I first want to give a big thanks to my brothers and sisters on the Romcath. List for helping me with this. Getting info on Renew 2000 is difficult, and apparently, with good reason.)

          When is a Catholic organization not a Catholic organization? When it's Renew 2000. If you go to their web site you will notice that it is very ambiguous and doesn't mention Call To Action or any other CTA umbrella organization, i.e. WomanChurch, Dignity, Futurechurch, Catholics for a Free Choice, etc. You won't see obvious members of CTA mentioned in their catalog of booklets. You may even find wording which sounds exactly what the Church teaches.

          It can best be described as the old bait and hook technique of shady salesmen. You know, advertise a top of the line item on a fantastic sale, but get there and find they don't have it and sell you something else.

          The bait: "RENEW 2000 is a very thorough spiritual renewal evangelization process designed for parishes to prepare for the new millennium. It incorporates the themes suggested by Pope John Paul II in His Apostolic Letter. Special attention is given to the needs of young adults, both single and married." (Renew 2000 web page)

          Sounds great. It implies its in accordance with John Paul II's Apostolic Letter (but they don't mention it by name). But notice, incorporating themes 'suggested' by the Pope. And, of course, again, the main focus is toward the young.

          However, appearances can be deceiving. The hook: " In our parish, there was a wide-spread dissatisfaction with the Session I Renew 2000 participant booklet, "God, a Community of Love"-even as there was enthusiasm over meeting together as small groups. The complaints were general: as a team leader having reviewed the materials in detail, I decided to try to put into words possible reasons for the unease of so many, along with some comments on the current Session II materials. Doing so is difficult: the problems are subtle ones of tone and vocabulary. In fact, the greatest problem of the materials was what they didn't say" (A REVIEW OF RENEW 2000 MATERIALS by Brock Fowler)

          Mr. Fowler goes on to say: "As I was reading the materials, I often felt like I was back at Unity School of Christianity-a New Age-ish church where I spent some time on my way to becoming a Catholic. At various times, I was reminded the vocabulary that I heard former Catholics use while explaining why they left the Church, or from ecology spirituality (which is New Age/pagan, and goes by various names), or from those feminists who propose that the Church is a patriarchal instrument of oppression. It is important to use the language of faith, rather than a secular vocabulary, in a renewal effort aimed at the Catholic in the pew: " (Ibid)

          One phrase used in the Renew 2000 web site which sounds extremely Catholic is: "The actual decision to walk with Jesus in his Church involves us in the painful process of turning away from old habits of selfishness and sin (John 12:24). If we want to follow Christ, we will have to leave the "wide road" of ease and superficial pleasure and try to walk on the "narrow road" that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14; 16:24). As Christians we are called to choose life."

          Yet, the reality is far different. " Session II materials continue to use loaded language. For example, on p. 34, we are urged to identify ourselves with the Pharisees for the sake of honest self-examination (emphasis added): "These Pharisees gather the evidence, but they cannot believe because they are too rigid. Because the healed persons does not `fit their narrow definitions,' they choose to throw him out. In what way do I experience in me a self-righteousness or rigid way of thinking? (Pause)" Many believe that anyone who believes all the Church asks her children to believe is narrow and rigid. We are told that the Catholic view of the family is a "narrow definition" that needs to be expanded to include the full variety of unmarried sexual relationships. Failure to give on this, and many other points, is often called "rigid thinking." Interestingly, the Bible and Church history are full of martyrs who refused to compromise their faith: was that "rigid"? (A REVIEW OF RENEW 2000 MATERIALS by Brock Fowler)

          So the pain seems to be from our letting go of 2,000 of Christian teaching and tradition and embracing a 'new' theology.

          This seems to follow Call To Action tactics. Rosemary R. Ruether mentioned Jesus as a 'symbol' some may want to retain during a conference on "Women and Spirituality."

          Renew 2000 has a booklet on "SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES:A Vision of Hope" If they were speaking of such 'communities' as the Legion of Mary, or other ministries in the Church, there would be no problem. However, it appears that Renew 2000 is more in line with Call To Action. "RENEW 2000 and small faith communities: Imagining Future Church' ": RENEW 2000's diocesan director from Illinois will speak on the small faith community process, the expected result of which is to replace the Church with a "community of communities" and non-male leadership…... The RENEW 2000 materials that I reviewed (Small Christian Communities, Called to Lead, and several shorter texts) appear orthodox at first glance.

          The name "Call to Action" appears nowhere in the materials. But the section entitled "Feminist Spirituality" is unadulterated CTA anti-Church agitprop. In it, one reads: "The foundations of feminism are basically religious...."; "Many Christian women and men who recognize the relationship between many feminist goals and the realization of God's reign are developing a spirituality which integrates a feminist consciousness.... There has been an exclusive emphasis on male imagery when talking about God. When God is imaged as only masculine, we lose the particular expression of God that is feminine." " (Paulists' RENEW 2000 Is Just A Front For Call To Action By Beth Roney Drennan)

          " ChristSophia, a female Christ with a pierced nose, is promoted in a 1992 video series featuring RENEW 2000 coordinator and coauthor of the primary RENEW 2000 text Margo LeBert. LeBert is coordinator for RENEW 2000 and has been "American coordinator for the international office of RENEW in Plainfield, N.J." She coauthored the primary RENEW 2000 text, Small Christian Communities. A few years ago, LeBert was featured in a video series called InnerAction. InnerAction and Call to Action are associated with many of the same theologians, writers, and groups. Most disturbing, however, is that the InnerAction program in which RENEW 2000 coordinator and author LeBert appears approvingly features a large, full-color icon of "ChristSophia," a female Christ with a pierced nose holding a naked, faceless fertility goddess doll with huge bare breasts.

          This program recommends "to the Christian community" a new "ritual," including 16 "special chants" to the earth, to plants, to the "sisters" (special powers that help people), to powers that bring rain, to the four being powers, and to the spirit of Handsome Lake (InnerAction Cultural Blessings participant magazine, pp. 8 and 27).

          Another presenter in RENEW 2000 coordinator LeBert's InnerAction series is Fr. Richard Rohr. He also heads a CTA-associated organization (Center for Action and Contemplation) and founded another (New Jerusalem). Rohr, who has presided at the "weddings" of same-sex couples, also writes books about "enneagrams." "Enneagrams" and their concomitant "enneagram trances" are not in the Catechism, but an Internet search of the word reveals that enneagrams are a part of (again!) the WICCA (witchcraft) and paganism web sites." (Ibid)

          The list goes on and on. One thing that was of note was how Renew 2000 seems intent on covering their Call To Action connections. One can only find them after extensive research and digging. And I wouldn't have found it without the help of my Catholic friends on the Romcath e-mail list group.

         

      "….."evangelization" project RENEW 2000:
    • 1) Utilizes reference names or writers whose work has been hostile to and in direct conflict with Catholic teaching;
    • 2) Requires extensive research to discover the background of its contributors;
    • 3) Will reach and influence a vast number of Catholic faithful for a significant length of time;
    • 4) Will reach faithful who have been told by their pastors and bishops that the program is entirely safe and who have not been put on notice that the program harbors any dangers;
    • 5) Will reach many laypersons who are not sufficiently educated in Catholic teaching to be able to identify or recognize dangerous theologians and passages;" (Ibid)

          For a full expose' on Renew 2000, I recommend going to the Peters Net Web site and searching their database for Renew 2000. (http://www.petersnet.net/)

          Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., openly declared Call to Action and their affiliates to be heretical and their members excommunicated. Renew 2000 appears to be their attempt to get back in via the back door.

      Pax Christi, Pat

April 19, 1999       volume 10, no. 76
VIEW FROM THE PEW

DAILY CATHOLIC

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